NCAA Basketball Picks: Add Ball State -2.5 vs. Miami-Ohio In MAC Action

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, February 16, 2016 3:42 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016 3:42 PM UTC

The Ball State Cardinals are tied with Toledo for first place in the MAC West, so they could ill afford a slip-up when visiting the last place Miami-Ohio RedHawks on Tuesday.


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A team tied for first place in the West Division of the MAC seems undervalued on the road Tuesday night visiting the last place team in the MAC East as those Ball State Cardinals (16-9, 8-11 ATS) pay a visit to the Miami-Ohio RedHawks (9-16, 8-13 ATS) at John D. Millett Hall in Oxford, OH at 7:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.

The point spread at Bookmaker has Ball State as a small road favorite for this contest with the current line at -2½ on the NCAA Basketball odds board at odds of -105.


No Great Teams in the MAC
The MAC could be up for grabs this season as besides a very good Akron team that leads the East with a 9-3 conference mark, every other team in the conference has at last five MAC losses. Ball State is among the teams with five losses as the Cardinals are tied with Toledo atop the West Division at 7-5 as well as 16-9 overall, and with Toledo hot right now having won four straight games with three blowouts, the Cardinals know they cannot slip up vs. weaker teams.

Well, Miami-Ohio would seem to qualify as a weaker team as the RedHawks have the inverse overall record of Ball State at 9-16 and they are in last place in the MAC East with just a 3-9 conference mark.

Granted the RedHawks have been the winning NCAA Basketball picks in three of their last five games following an 0-7 start to the MAC season, but the wins came vs. a couple of teams that are currently 4-8 in conference in Bowling Green and Western Michigan, as well as over a Northern Illinois team that is 6-6 and ranked only 162nd overall on the Pomeroy Ratings.


Nice Win over Valparaiso
While the MAC is pretty balanced this season, Ball State had one of the best non-conference wins for this conference this season when it upset Valparaiso as a 9½-point underdog, a Valpo team that is still currently ranked 29th in the entire county on Pomeroy to make it one of the three highest ranked mid-majors along with Gonzaga and Wichita State. That goes to show what the Cardinals are capable of with their best effort.

Granted that win did not serve as a springboard to a great MAC season, but thanks to parity in the conference a West title is still within reach, especially with a huge meeting with Toledo still to come next Tuesday, February 23rd, as the Cardinals have a home date with Northern Illinois on Saturday to follow this game. The way Toledo is playing right now, Ball State probably needs to win both games prior to that matchup with the Rockets to make it meaningful.

Yes, the Cardinals are 4-5 straight up in the road this season, but you can toss that right now because the four wins have come in the last five road games all inside the conference after starting the season at 0-4 on the highway. So looking purely at the matchups, this is a game that the Cardinals should win as they appear to be a better team on both ends.

Offensively, Ball State has a good 52.4 percent effective field goal percentage, a figure that is helped by ranking 38th in the country in three-point shooting at 38.4 percent. That success from the perimeter should continue vs. a Miami team ranked 256th in three-point defense. Defensively, Ball State is a nice 57th in the country in effective field goal percentage allowed at 46.9 percent, and the Cardinals do not figure to have trouble stopping the RedHawks’ offense.


Offense? What Offense?
That is because Miami-Ohio is one of the more offensively challenged teams in the country, ranking 341st out of 351 NCAA Basketball Division I teams in scoring with 62.2 points per game, 331st in overall shooting percentage at 39.8 percent, 327th in three-point shooting at 30.2 percent and 326th in two-point shooting at 43.9 percent! Given all that, the RedHawks’ 317th ranking in offensive efficiency could be considered better than expected.

That is still not saying much though and to compound matters, Miami is also very sloppy with the basketball ranking 278th in offensive turnover percentage at 20.0 percent vs. a national average of 18.4 percent. Things have not gotten any better vs. conference opponents either with the RedHawks dead last in the 12-team MAC in offensive efficiency, effective field goal percentage and turnover percentage.

And to add insult to injury, Miami-Ohio is also dead last inside the MAC in effective field goal percentage allowed defensively. The only upside is that the RedHawks probably feel good about themselves with the three wins in the last five games, but that feeling should subside with this step up in competition.


Visitors’ Series
Finally, this head-to-head series has become a Visitors’ Series recently betting-wise with the road teams going 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings. Also, Ball State is a spiffy 5-1 ATS in its last six road games overall while Miami-Ohio is 16-33-3 ATS in its last 52 home games vs. teams with losing road records.

Ball State cannot afford to lose winnable games like this if it wants to have any hope of keeping pace with a hot Toledo team in the MAC West, so look for the Cardinals to take care of business vs. a seemingly lesser opponent on the road visiting Miami-Ohio in Oxford on Tuesday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Ball State -2½ 
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